TEACHING AS AN INTELLECTUAL PRACTICE: taking a stance
One of the most important responsibilities of any designer is the assumption of a defendable intellectual position. To be in practice just for the sake of money, fame, or any other type of validation is a futile source of personal and collective suffering. In fact, I’ve never been able to conceive or respect any design practice which does not display a rigorous intellectual component; because I prefer to express the content of my own intellect with simple drawings, I must clarify that I understand drawings as a deliberate act of theoretical engagement with the present – an act of aesthetic engagement which may yield virtuous or wicked contributions to contemporary design debates.
Teaching is not the mere transferring of technical knowledge from a person with greater practice (the master) to one with a lesser degree of experience (the disciple). The moral imperative of any teacher is to take an intellectual position and to choreograph its development in the course of 14 weeks. The master must take a stance to formulate a clear scholarly position regarding the essence of architecture and cities; the disciple, on the other hand, must be exposed to the greatest variety of available intellectual positions in order to understand as many points of view as possible while rounding up their potential design education; an education which should respect the technical aspects required for a solid practice but, also an education which does not neglect the conception of space in its cultural, historical, and geo-socio-political environments.
There should be no clear boundaries between theory and practice. A design project should be nothing but a means for the embodiment of theories that do not necessarily get expressed in writing. No project should even be started without an intellectual effort at the moment of its initial gestation. Nevertheless, the design process cannot be conceived as a Newtonian process of linearity for it involves multiple loops and moments of reset. Therefore, we must also be open to embody whatever new theory position(s) may emerge in the course of the chaotic process of design.
Teaching is indeed an intellectual practice.